Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Specials (1979)


Note: the CD I listened to was the 2002 Enhanced CD reissue.

I wasn't aboard the ska train back in the late '70s because I was too busy listening to soft rock and disco.  I missed a lot of music coming out of the UK at that time.  I was, however, strangely attracted to ska's mod style "Rude Boy" dress at the time.  (This is exactly the opposite of my later approach to New Romantic music - loved the music, hated the frilly shirts and eye liner.)  I avoided mod dress in high school because I didn't necessarily want to be beat up on a daily basis.  A pork pie hat wouldn't have gone over well amid the rice fields of rural South Texas (unless maybe if it had a John Deere patch sewn on the front).


I later came to ska music through The English Beat in the early '80s.   I'm not a huge ska fan; between this CD and The English Beat stuff, I'm set.  As I've written before, I like ska music in general, but can't take much of it in large doses.  I think the lyrics are political, but I'm not much for lyrics.  Would have loved to see these guys tear it up live back in the day, though. 

This album is featured in the 2005 book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (p. 446) and ranked at #68 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the '80s (despite its 1979 release date).  It's highly acclaimed albums like these that I always feel I should listen to more often than I do.  To be honest, I prefer Terry Hall's subsequent work with Fun Boy Three and The Colour Field.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #84
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #67

Tracks: It all starts to sound the same after a while, but I can't resist the grooves of A Message To You Rudy, Too Hot, and Too Much Too Young.  The wonderful Little Bitch gets a special mention since it later appeared in the classic '80s movie, Sixteen Candles.  They should have stayed away from covering the Maytals, even though I enjoy the cover of Rufus Thomas' Do The Dog.  The only tracks I usually skip are Stupid Marriage and You're Wondering Now.

I was able to get the Enhanced CD section of the 2002 disc to work on my computer.  The contents there were videos to Gangsters and Too Much Too Young, both now readily available on the YouTube.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I didn't have this album on vinyl and just picked up the CD from the used bin about 8 years ago, paying $6.98 - much more than usual for a used disc.

Previously revisited for the blog:
This Are Two Tone (1983)


1 comment:

  1. Never saw what the attrraction was in dressing for a certain genre or style of music. I have always been a 501 jeans and T-shirt man although over the last few years I have evolved into a cargo shorts and T-shirt man. I maintain a strict no logos policy on my shirts and if they are not plain must be something I beleive in: music bands or labels, Marvel Comics, selected brands (Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, Mello Yello, Blue Bell), Star Wars, Muppets, any cassette or vinyl graphics and sarcasm like "Keep Earth Clean It's Not Uranus." Yes, my phyisical resemblance to Jeff Albertson, the Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, is eerie.

    About two years ago, my least favorite niece asked if I had heard "that new ska music". I told her I would send her what I had and hit her inbox with everything I got: Madness, The Clash, The Specials, (English) Beat, Untouchables, The Selecter, Fishbone along with later bands like Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, early No Doubt and Less Than Jake.

    She sent an email saying none of those bands were THE ska she was talking about. I never replied and we have not spoken of ska music since. Now you see how she retains the title of my least favorite niece over her four competitors.

    Turns out we are currently riding the fourth wave of Ska: the original wave was Jamaica in the late Sixties, second wave (aka two-tone) hit in the late Seventies and third wave hit in the late Eighties and early Nineties. You learn something new every day.

    I still call it all SKA.

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